It has reached my attention that the funding of the music services has been reduced dramatically. I understand that the funding of the arts has not been the only thing that has been cut, but I also believe that many people do not fully understand why music is such an important factor in our day to day lives.
If you walk down a busy street, it is likely that you will see more than one person with headphones plugged into their ears. There is an abundance of music everywhere you go. We don't realise how much it affects us. Music is in many types of entertainment, whether it is movies, or even national anthems sung on a football pitch by hundreds of fans. Music has inspired writers to create novels and for artists to paint creations that can be seen in national galleries. Music can make us laugh and cry. Songs can run in many people's heads on repeat whether they want it or not. It is incredible when you truly consider the role that music plays in everyone's lives. So why is it considered unimportant?
It is thought that if you listen to classical music whilst working, it improves your concentration and your output tenfold. But is there more stock in this theory than we thought? Research has been performed to discover whether students that participate in music education get higher grades and have a higher IQ than their peers. Many studies have compared groups of students against one another; those who don't play an instrument, and those who do. A man named Schellenberg conducted an investigation with three groups, a group that was given singing or keyboard lessons, a group that was given drama lessons, and a group that did neither. The results of the test confirmed that those who had participated in the keyboard and singing lessons had a higher IQ than those who had not. Additionally the group that had been given drama lessons had better social development.
PDF by K Hille
Similarly, research has been conducted, revealing that music can help a child's reading and writing skills. When you are taught music, you are taught to listen to the subtleties and the flow of the melody, so it improves your listening ability. It also improves dedication and the ability to follow something through, because it is so easy to give up on something when it becomes difficult. I think that dedication is formed in musicians because, often, it can be very frustrating if you can't play something or something does not sound right. This also aids the development of perfectionism. Dedication and perfectionism are characteristics that are very useful when working, because if you are dedicated, you are more likely to do better work. The perfectionism is good when you don't want to stop working on something until it is right, therefore, the output of a musician can often be better than some others. Employers often look for dedication and listening ability when they recruit workers, so why turn down an opportunity that could enhance these skills?
Furthermore, other surveys have been organised in schools to test the same hypothesis, with a slight difference. A group tested to see if those who played an instrument or had members of their family playing instruments had better grades than those who didn't. They tested the effects on IQ and spelling mistakes. The result was a positive correlation between the amount of spelling mistakes that students made and the IQ that students had when they had been given a music education or had music in the home. Those who played an instrument made less spelling mistakes and had higher IQs. Those who did not participate in a music education had the most spelling mistakes and the lowest IQ. Those who had family members playing were somewhere in the middle. Here are the graphs that were produced to show the results.
PDF by K Hille
Other research has informed us that this higher ability is due to the use of the frontal cortex (also known as the frontal lobe). When a musician plays, they have to make their hands do two separate things, and this requires the frontal lobe. The frontal cortex also aids a musician when reading music and interpreting the music in a creative way. Reading is associated with the left hemisphere and the creativity associated with the right. The frontal lobe is responsible for long term memory of things that are usually related to emotions and for decision making. This is where you decide what is right or wrong and what is better or best. This associates with musicians because they have to be able to hear how they can make something sound better and they have to make the choices of what they want the music to sound like. This use of the brain is important because most people don't use their frontal cortex very much. Additionally you will often find that those who play an instrument will be more creative and will remember more than those who do not participate in instrumental lessons. Furthermore, this creativity can lead to 'divergent' thinking, which means that they can 'think outside the box'. This can lead to better grades in more creative subjects, as well as the logical and academic subjects. This multitasking and divergent thinking can be very useful and could improve one's chances of being able to get a better job. It could help a company to think of new, unique ways to advertise or earn money. These are transferable skills that are often looked for in interviewees in a job interview and are necessary in many careers.
Nonetheless, it is not just the scientific evidence that shows that the funding cuts to the music service and industry are unfair. Music is a subject that is very enjoyable to learn, and you get the satisfaction of mastering something. Also, you often hear older people saying, "I wish I'd learnt a musical instrument when I was younger". I think that this is because number one, it is more interesting to do a music lession than an academic lesson, and number two, you can perform to people. It opens up doors and gives you more opportunities. If you continue with your studies, you have a chance to follow an academic career as well as a career in the arts. It is a valuable resource to have and with the funding cuts, the music service for Milton Keynes has been disbanded, rendering it unable to help young musicians in the same way that it could before. Many people disagree with the cutting of funding and here are a
couple of online surveys that I conducted to see who agreed with me.
As you can see from these surveys, although not many people answered, they still thought that the funding cuts towards the music services were unfair. There are different ranges in how people believe these cuts are unfair, from just "Nah, they ain't fair" to where someone has said "I believe funding cuts to music are unfair when millions are given away to despotic third world regimes and to States with a space/nuclear programme!" I think this shows that many people, however musical they are, and however strongly that they feel on this subject, agree with my opinion. Also, the survey I asked was on 'Yahoo' answers, so the people who answered were from everywhere, perhaps even from different countries. The fact that people agree from so many different backgrounds, just gives more strength to my argument, and it shows that I am not the only person that thinks funding cuts to the music services are unfair.
Moreover, instruments are very difficult to play. It is part of the reason that many students do not continue with an instrument to a higher level. Music could be considered more difficult than many aspects of academic subjects. I am not suggesting that music can be considered more important than these academic subjects, but it should be thought of more as an equal to them due to how hard it is to learn them competently. I decided to do a survey online to see if other people also thought that instruments can be harder than academic subjects. Here are my results.
Which are harder to learn, academic subjects or instruments?
In this survey, everyone who answered said that instruments were harder to learn and only one person said that it "Depend[ed]". Also, the answer at the top that I chose as the best answer, also says that they think music would be more rewarding than academic work. I know that academic work can be rewarding and you can be proud of something you have done, but I agree with the top answer; music is definitely more rewarding. One of the answers is that "[someone] can learn all of the academic subjects pertaining to music in less than one month, but playing an instrument takes a lot of effort and constant practice." Here this shows that the music theory that you have to learn is probably pretty easy, but when it comes to actually learning a musical instrument, it is something that you need a teacher for as well as perseverance. You can't store information in your head on how to learn an instrument, you need the motor memory and the practice, and that is what distinguishes playing an instrument from academic subjects. You can remember how to do English, and what formulas mean in science and maths, but you need to do a lot more than that when learning an instrument.
My survey shows that instruments should be thought of as more equal to or perhaps even better than academic subjects. When something is difficult, surely that should mean that it is better for a child or young person to learn? Don't we always say that we should challenge ourselves more?
I have been researching the reasons for the funding cuts to the music service. I know that we have been in an economic depression so there has been far less money to go around, but I still think that there have been very large budget cuts to the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS). This is a graph that shows the percentage of funding that has been cut for different areas in the DCMS's budget.
This shows that there has in fact been only one area of the budget that has been cut by 50%, but the remaining sectors have still had relatively large cuts. These aren't the only cuts. The result is that the overall depression in funding for the DCMS will be 25% by 2014-2015. This is a huge cut that will take a lot out of the department's budget, but the worst thing is that the left-over money must be spread over culture and sports, as well as the media aspect of the department. All I mean is that it is like there is an even larger decrease in funding because everything has to be evenly spread out.
My final point is how learning a musical instrument can change people's lives. I started playing the guitar when I was five years old, and if I hadn't, then I know I would have been an entirely different person. From having to practice hard from such a young age, I got use to the routine of practicing and working hard. This means that now I play guitar and piano, I am far more able to put a larger amount of practice into it. If I hadn't learnt a musical instrument from such a young age, then it is likely that I would not be the way that I am now. I am so thankful to the Milton Keynes music service for what they have offered me. This is a reason why I have chosen this argument: it means a lot to me. I know that it is not only Milton Keynes that has suffered from losses, but it is the one music service that I know, so I therefore want to protect it. Here is a survey that I did online to see if music has changed any people's lives.
This survey shows that the people who do agree with me, agree with me very strongly. Also, it links back to my previous point that music can change our emotions. The answer that I chose as the best answer is a clean cut case of something that shows that.
I hope you understand how big a decision it was to cut the funding to the music services, because it is a very important factor in other's and my own life.